I like looking at women’s legs. I’m not being sexist. I’m a guy.
I also don’t embarrass easily and I think beauty pageants are stupid.
Having said all of that, I was talked into judging the Miss Placer County pageant 31 years ago.
Most guys would think this would be a great thing to do. Believe me, it isn’t.
The pageant had a judging session away from the crowds the day before where personality and intelligence allegedly counts. It’s not the type of questions they ask you during the actual pageant such as “if you were Miss Placer County how would you save the world in 25 words or less?”
Paul Dugan, a Roseville physician who launched Start-A-Heart, asked all the contestants to describe Placer County’s boundaries since if they won they’d be the county’s ambassador. I thought it made sense. So based on the answers that day, both Paul and I eliminated one contestant who thought the county included Reno, ran all the way to the Oregon border, and touched Yosemite.
She won the contest the next night. The women judges — who were about the most vicious females I have ever encountered when it came to sizing up others of their gender — ridiculed both of us. They informed us in order to win in Los Angeles — the home at the time of the Miss California pageant — Miss Placer County had to be blonde. Intelligence wasn’t a big issue. (No blonde joke intended that was what they said.)
But even the afternoon of discovering that half the contestants were ignorant of basic local geography and political boundaries of the entity they wanted to represent was nothing compared to show time.
We were seated at the edge of the stage — the good doctor, an ex-pageant director from Orange County, a former Miss Placer, a former prize fighter who was had been enough of a celebrity to make the county fair circuit, and myself. It is important to know that while things were explained to us on what we were to judge, we weren’t given specific judging instructions as to what to look for until minutes before the pageant started.
Like I said, I believe the most intriguing part of a lady’s physical presence besides her face are her legs. I’m a guy. Not a pig.
But after glancing through the 20 things we should look for and judge on each contestant’s legs, I immediately became self-conscious. Strike that. It was weeks afterwards before I’d look at another woman’s legs without getting a knot in my stiomach.
Each of the 20 judging points were specific, detailed and brutal. They talked about curves being too broad, cellulite, muscle tone, shape of the knee cap, how the thigh and calf muscles compared in proportion to each other, and how the back of the legs looked leading from the derriere side of the Catalina swim suit. Those aren’t the only things I remember from the judging sheet. They were just the only ones that were printable.
When the contestants came out in the Catalina bathing suits in high heels — I ask how many real women walk around like that — I was turning red. It didn’t help that there were cat-calls from the under-25 male crowd behind us who were on testosterone and that the turns, smiles and glances were being done in front of us specifically for us.
It felt like I was sizing up a steer for market — or worse yet.
I’ve had used car salesmen be more subtle.
I looked at Paul. I figured he saw women professionally in various stages of undress and had to size up their condition as part of his job. So this obviously wouldn’t bother him. The ex-prize fighter looked like he had been punched one too many times.
I felt dirty and a bit at a loss about how to go about the task at hand.
So I made the mistake of leaning over to whisper a question to the ex-pageant director. I was curious on how to look for some of the exact things I was supposed to look for as I couldn’t believe there were 20 things critical to a women’s legs looking great and that each of those were worthy of three lines of even more details.
Ever so helpful, she whispered back her answer explaining to me how one particularly wholesome looking brunette, who struck me the day before as having her act together, was essentially a physical wreck. In the span of 15 seconds she completely nitpicked and shredded how the front of her thighs looked and how they weren’t perfect.
And I thought she looked pretty good.
That experience made me realize I was wrong to think beauty pageants were stupid. They’re vulgar.
News this week that the Miss America pageant was dropping the swimsuit portion of the annual competition obviously didn’t bother me a bit. It was a long overdue decision.
However, it’s a bit disingenuous for Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America who is the new head of the pageant’s trustees, to claim as she did on ABC’s “Good Morning America, that “we’re not going to judge you on your appearance because we are interested in what makes you you.”
Carlson is without a doubt an intelligent, successful person. That said who is fooling who?
The bottom line of Miss America is the fact it is a beauty pageant. It’s safe to say you don’t get on the stage in Atlantic City without having a specific look or body type.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.